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The New Statesman’s atrocious editing 11, March 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Middle East.
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“Sunni v Shia”  Zaki Chehad New Statesman (17th February 2007)

(Red= Shia majority. Yellow=Sunni majority)

Notice anything strange about this map? Anything at all? I’ll give you a clue, there are three mistakes: two are cartographic and one is to do with an over-zealous graphic editor.

Firstly, whilst Iran and Iraq certainly are countries with a Shia majority, Kuwait is not. The Shia are thought to be around a third of the population. Not even especially close to a majority.

Secondly, Bahrain has been inflated in size as well as having its actual outline changed. Bahrain is relatively long and thin, resembling perhaps a dagger. Also it is on a north-south axis as opposed to this squashed, stunted Bahrain on an east-west axis. On this map, it is vastly over-exaggerated in size, appearing half the size of Qatar (should be 17 times smaller) and maybe 4 times smaller than Kuwait (should be 27 times smaller).

Thirdly, and in my view the worst mistake is to do with Qatar. On the New Statesman’s map Qatar is clearly and unequivocally an island. It is not. It is contiguous to the Arabian Peninsula land mass, having, at its narrowest, a 25 mile border with Saudi Arabia.

I can understand, to some degree, the Bahrain mistake. They want to highlight that Bahrain has a Shia majority and if they had a map of the Middle East’s true dimensions, Bahrain would hardly be visible. There are, however, better ways around this than simply re-drawing the country. Or if you insist on getting all imperial and re-drawing the country, then at least put a note on the map saying so. The Kuwait example is simply poor editing. The graphic artist (whom I sincerely hope is out of a job now) either mis-read his instructions or simply didn’t care enough. It is the Qatar example that seems to be the worst to me, for the person in question would have had to have taken some map to edit. This means that they wantonly erased Qatar (for some unknown reason) and drew it back in as an island. This, to me, shows an utter contempt for detail and a profound lack of professionalism as well as crass, sloppy and lazy editing.